From Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Urban Heaths Partnership
- Adders are one of the six British species of reptile.
- We are lucky enough to have all six right here in Dorset.
- Adders are cold blooded so need the warmth of the sun to give them energy, which is why you can sometimes find them basking.
- Although their bite is poisonous, they are shy, sensitive and non-aggressive. They will not set out to hurt you and will actually try to avoid people.
- If they feel the vibration of your approach or sense a shadow, they will scuttle away, but they might not feel an approaching dog, which is lighter on its feet.
- They hibernate in winter.
- This is a threatened species and protected by law.
Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Urban Heaths Partnership give the following advice for people out walking from March to September, especially on heathland:
- Keep to the paths and wear sensible shoes (not flip-flops or sandals - preferably boots with ankle protection).
- If you do get bitten, go straight to hospital.
- Carry a mobile phone to call for help.
- Keep dogs on the paths and under close control (preferably on a lead) to prevent them from disturbing and surprising wildlife. This could save you a vet bill!
How do you know it's an adder?
- Adders have a distinctive zig-zag pattern down the middle of the back and tail.
- They come in lots of colours - browns for females, greys for males and occasionally black, but always with the zig-zag.
If you spot an adder, please report it to the Dorset Environmental Records Centre on 01305 225081, giving date and exact location, preferably a grid reference or postcode.
You can help with wardening our heaths or doing reptile surveys - contact Dorset Wildlife Trust's urban team on 01202 692033.
Also see Snakes Section